Beat Sound, Beat Vision: The Beat spirit and popular song by Laurence Coupe

By Laurence Coupe

This e-book unearths the tips in the back of the Beat imaginative and prescient which inspired the Beat sound of the songwriters who on from them. Having explored the taking into consideration Alan Watts, who coined the time period 'Beat Zen', and who stimulated the counterculture which emerged out of the Beat move, it celebrates Jack Kerouac as a author in pursuit of a 'beatific' imaginative and prescient. in this foundation, the ebook is going directly to clarify the relevance of Kerouac and his buddies Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder to songwriters who emerged within the Sixties. not just are new, specific readings of the lyrics of the Beatles and of Dylan given, however the variety and intensity of the Beat legacy inside well known music is indicated when it comes to an summary of a few vital innovators: Jim Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Donovan, the impressive String Band, Van Morrison and Nick Drake.

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Sample text

Finally, I must briefly anticipate an objection to a twofold assumption of this book: that popular song is worth taking seriously, regardless of its status in our society as commercial entertainment, and that it is a valid medium for the exploration of the spiritual traditions outlined above. With regard to the first, I am trying to avoid the twin dangers of the academic approach to ‘pop’. The first of these, associated with literary studies, is the dismissal of ‘pop’ as trivial and insubstantial: some readers may recall a longwinded debate some years ago, based on the motion that ‘Dylan is not as good as Keats’.

The assumption here would be along the lines of ‘Dylan is no better than Britney Spears’, since they both are marketed within the same capitalist system. I am caricaturing both tendencies, of course: there are several shades in between the two extremes. However, what seems to be the case is that, apart from a brief vogue in the 1960s for celebrating ‘the poetry of rock’, it has habitually been thought to be naïve to attribute significance to the lyrics of popular songs, or to read them with the attention one would give a poem.

19 We will return to that title in due course, to register its significance. It is interesting to note that in the short prefatory statement which Watts provided for the reprint, he went out of his way to emphasise that the essay was not written from any official position. In particular, he denied that he was a representative of ‘square’ Zen, as had been suggested by at least one commentator. The fact that Watts, regarded in orthodox Buddhist circles as a vulgar populariser, felt obliged to deny that he was a traditionalist only conveys the confusion and controversy surrounding the Zen influence at that time.

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